Friday, October 21, 2005

So Here's To You, Mister Robinson

Well, it's now official: Svend Robinson is back on the comeback trail.

Robinson said Friday he will seek the NDP nomination in the riding of Vancouver Centre to run in the next federal election. That riding is held by Liberal Hedy Fry.

"I'm asking for a second chance," he told a news conference. "I should be judged for my entire hard record of work."

Robinson was first elected in 1979 and served as a member of Parliament for 25 years.

He left politics in 2004 after he admitted to stealing a diamond ring in a moment of "utter irrationality" and later was given a conditional discharge for theft over $5,000.

"Again today I want to say how deeply sorry I am," Robinson said Friday, describing the theft as unpremeditated madness.

He wouldn't discuss whether he was taking any medication for what he called a mild bipolar disorder.

"I wouldn't be taking this step unless I had the full confidence of my therapist," Robinson said.

A couple of points:

First, it'd be easy to refer to Robinson, at this point, as shameless. Given the circumstances of his initial resignation, most other people would balk at the idea of running for Parliament again, because they'd be figuratively torn to shreds.

But in Robinson's case, shamelessness is a virtue. He knows his shoplifting conviction is going to be a major issue in his comeback campaign, so by bringing it up now, on his own, he'll have better control over its impact.

Second, by bringing up bipolar disorder and therapy, he's sending a very subtle message. You could call it a prejudicial challenge, if you like: Svend's trying to appeal to those who believe that it's possible for mentally-challenged people to live a normal life. And those who suggest that Svend's psychological problems should disqualify him from office -- "well, (nudge nudge wink wink) we all know how those kind of people think anyway, now don't we?"

It's a devilishly clever appeal, and certainly more than enough to give Hedy Fry a run for her money.

Does Svend deserve to win? He's a natural publicity hound, which will work for some causes he champions but not for others. He's the type that will irritate folks like Don Laytone, but he's got more sense than Carolyn Parrish. Ed Broadbent took a Liberal stronghold because most people knew he was an "all right Joe." Svend's not quite as all right as Honest Ed, but he's got experience and he knows what he's doing. I don't care for him personally, but I think he's earned the right for his second chance.

And if he wins -- well, it's one less Librano, right?